Esa Lukala’s gestural brush strokes and mark making have been a constant presence in his painting, influenced by abstract expressionism, architecture, street culture, landscape and the female form.
Lukala’s earlier work 2009-2015 took inspiration from the symbolism of modern urban environments that he photographed during his travels. Tags, logos and signs lend themselves to his final pieces created by layering photographs, textures, colours and brush strokes. Producing harmonious compositions built on rhythm and tension.
The fascination in experimenting with these graphical visual components is also apparent in Lukala’s use of photography and particularly when including analogue processes. This is evident in the charming results of the Polaroid 50x60 positives, and the Polaroid 55 edges that are featured in the overlapping collages. By introducing the figure into his work, Lukala's mark making responds accordingly, creating sensual, sumptuous lines. Reflecting on his conviction in the process of painting itself. Looking for discoveries in his work, constantly moving between abstraction and figuration allowing meaning to emerge.
In his most recent body of work Lukala has returned to his roots using traditional media and techniques on canvas, paper and aluminum with acrylic colors, oil pastel and graphite. Putting emphasis on compositions of big blocks of earthy colours, controlled lines, organic textures and geometric shapes of brutalist landscapes.
This development in his painting is a reflection of today’s oversaturated world of imagery, brands and bold colours we are bombarded by daily. These calm and minimalistic paintings are also revealing Lukala’s own personality and attitude in a life of ‘less is more’.
My works are hybrids. Their starting points are photographs, over which I paint another, unique layer. The combination of these two elements gives rise to a totally new and unique reality.
As the foundation for my works I use photographs in which I have captured moments from big cities. I photograph metropolis landscapes, atmospheres, the pulse of life and marks left by humankind.
Another theme of mine is nudes. The subject interests me, since nakedness is strongly linked with social and moral tensions.
I deal with the female body in a stereotypical way, as an almost immaterial landscape. I have almost entirely obliterated the individual features from the pictures. It is virtually impossible to make out the person’s face, head or hands.
What also interests me about photography is accidents and errors: old, damaged glass negatives; the wide margins of Polaroid images; and exposure and development mistakes. I add these elements in layers to my pictures during the digital-manipulation stage.
I paint a new, unique layer on top of the photographic prints. I add my own markings to the photographs making expressive, random use of mixed media. I add rhythm to the pictures with geometric colour fields, lines, markings and calligraphic patterns. They give the works rhythm and compositional tension.
The finished work is a new reality generated by the fusion of these two layers. Sometimes, the end result is almost dreamlike, ghostly, while, at other times, it is grotesque. But the work is always a self-contained, unique whole.